I boarded the plane and found seat 27A. It was a window seat, so I knew I would be able to watch as we took off. I tucked my bag under my seat and stared out the window as the plane made its way to the runway.
I took in the white clouds against the blue sky… the green mountains freckled with small houses… all of it. I didn’t know when I would see it again, and with that thought tears welled in my eyes.
The plane picked up speed down the runway and we took off, and I began to cry more as I realized that I was turning the page on this chapter in my life. A chapter in which I learned more than I ever have, gone on more adventures than I had ever imagined, and became a person with a changed perspective of the world.
If there’s one think you can’t prepare for when studying abroad, it’s the coming back. People had warned me that it would be difficult, but I had never expected it to be this challenging.
Coming home is returning to what’s familiar, but you are different. You see everything with new eyes, and this experience in itself is its own form of culture shock. I felt as though I was in a dream as my parents drove me back home from the airport, waiting to wake up in my twin sized bed in Costa Rica to the sound of my host mom preparing breakfast. It wasn’t a dream; it was time to return to reality.
All of my friends have complimented me on my tanned skin and longer hair, but my appearance is the aspect of me that has changed the least. Though I was only away for three months, I will carry my experiences with me through the rest of my life through everything I do. I can use them in a job interview, or I can use my Spanish to help somebody translate. There won't be a day that goes by that I won’t think about my time in Costa Rica and how it changed me forever.
If I could sum up my study abroad experience in a few short words, it would be that it was everything I didn’t know that I needed. I didn’t know that I needed to be challenged, to be pushed to my limits, or to see things with new eyes.
If you have the chance to travel and live in another culture, jump at the chance! By taking this leap, you are becoming a member of society with a heightened perspective of the world. You are changing yourself and, in turn, changing the world around you. If we become comfortable we become complacent. I will forever owe it to my experiences in Costa Rica for pushing me out of my comfort zone.
That’s a wrap on my experiences in Costa Rica, I hope you all have enjoyed reading about my adventures as much as I enjoyed writing about them! No es adios Costa Rica, sino hasta luego. (It’s not goodbye Costa Rica, but see you later.)
Taylor Hunter has been updating us with her experience studying abroad in Costa Rica this semester. Read the rest of the articles in the series: